Palapye, Botswana: last weekend marked the seventh Rock The Nation festival hosted by local band Dust And Fire. An abundance of leather-clad, spiked, passionate and compassionate metal heads were to be seen parading their impressive wardrobes.
For those unfamiliar with Botswana’s booming metal scene and vibrant unabashed displays of camaraderie it might be a culture shock to be pulled in for an unexpected hug; or the occasional arm around the shoulder while they lean in and explain whatever it is that they are talking about with unbridled passion. Rock The Nation 7 took us on a journey to the Eastern part of the country, some 500-odd kilometers North of Gaborone.
Rock The Nation 7, locals and travelers unite
Headlining the festival was Adorned In Ash, as well as supporting acts Demogorth Satanum and Surdus; also representing the South African metal scene alongside the local bands. The fans were taken by Robyn Ferguson’s vocals and were rather surprised that such a small lady can growl in such magnitude! “vocalist” were being shouted as she walked past and well in to the night after the band had packed up, there was still talk of how impressed they were with Adorned In Ash. Other bands on the line-up included: Norbormide (Mozambique), Dust n Fire (Zowa, Bots), Metal Orizon (Francistown, Bots). Samehunduans (Maun, Bots), Raven In Flesh (Gabarone, Bots) and others from around the country.
The band shirts there were quite unique, one of which stood out the most was the band Samehunduans‘, their shirts had an eye catching message on the back labelled “The Masterbation Crew”. on the front of the Shirt the band’s logo and name is to be seen along with “Pray for Syria”.
“One night our guitarist saw on BBC everything that was happening in Syria and he said to us: ‘People are dying in Syria and it really hurts, man. We must pray for Syria’ and we decided to write a song for Syria.” ~ Twisted (drums, Samehunduans)
The “Masterbation Crew” concept stems from the band’s view that they do everything with the same passion, be it going to church, playing music, partying or masturbation.
The people were still going strong and supporting the band’s at four in the morning. Something that doesn’t happen often at South African gigs. To observe the care and respect the Botswana metal heads have for each other is heart warming they have true fellowship among them.
Equality, Influences, and other aspects in Botswanan Metal
One artist also spoke on the matter of respecting women in their scene.
“We consider everyone the same among us rockers. For us you are our sister; our friend; you are our fellow rocker”. ~ Leathers (vocal, Barren Barrel)
Barren Barrel, the local heavy weight fan favourite, was started ten years ago when Leathers'(vocalist and founder) brother came back from the military in 1992 with a bundle of cassettes. Although he didn’t understand the lyrics, he loved the way the music made him feel and he taught himself how to play music. He smiled as he remembered the first cassette that he owned; Waking Up The Neighbours by Bryan Adams. He picked it up on his way home from school and fell in love with rock music.
The Botswana metal scene is definitely an experience to add to your bucket list. It appears to be a nationwide phenomenon, with events occurring annually in a number of far flung urban centers around the country, many hours of travel apart. The metalheads of Botswana play hard and love even harder!